A cat's paws are everywhere yet nowhere, with never an untoward sound. Like footsteps on air, like motion through mist, like stone on stone in water, like strings strummed deep in the earth, an exquisite taste of ultimate truth, experienced first hand, in absence of spoken words. Never mind this mundane Western house, never mind its model kitchen, never mind the cartman's wife, the manservant, the kitchen helper, the daughter, the hired hands, Madam Hanako or her husband. I go where I like, listen as I please, stick out my tongue, shake my tail, set my whiskers taut, then quietly take my leave. When it comes to such technique, none in this land can match me. That nekomata demon cat of yore, I've begun to suspect, may well yet coarse through these veins. They say that toads carry, embedded in their foreheads, a noctolucent gem. Likewise, I carry in my tail not just the gods of heaven and earth, not just the Buddha, not just life's allures and transience, but a miracle elixer for all man's afflictions down through the ages. To stalk the Kaneda's corridors unnoticed, for me, is like Niō crushing jelly underfoot. In this moment, humbled by the height of my own powers, all stemming from this prized tail, I couldn't help but pause out of reverence. I lowered my head in deference to the great tail deity, adding a prayer for eternal feline fortune. It occurred to me, though, that my bearings were off. To laud the tail, one faces the tail. As I turned my body, my tail followed suit. I twisted my head to compensate, but my tail jumped by the same degree, still a step ahead. An object so divine, housing heaven and earth in its shortest span, was ever beyond my grasp. Exhausted after seven turns or more, I duly abandoned the chase. My head was swimming. I'd lost track of which way was which. Caring not, I stumbled on my way. Hanako's voice, from behind a shōji, stopped me in my tracks. I perked my ears and stilled my breath. "Penniless teacher, and disrespectful to boot." Her shrill voice rose up in ire.